Around 6 months ago I felt the need to move our local business website, www.pastelesfelices.com, from WIX, one of many US based free web hosting company and where we first created our site, to some place else. I even considered hosting our site on my own server.
These are some of the reasons why I decided to move the hosting our website to somewhere else:
1. Too expensive.
WIX makes you pay a fee if you want to connect your domain with your website, even if you purchase your domain through them. In our case, we decided to upgrade to the “Connect Domain” Premium package, which cost back in August 2012 57.82€ per year.
We opted to purchase the pastelesfelices.com domain through WIX to NetworkSolutions. It was more expensive than the others, but, since I’m no expert and have limited experience at web hosting, we decided to go with them because I certainly knew their name and I know that they have been around for a while (we wanted to avoid bad surprises). Purchasing the domain for 2 years cost us 56.29€. This makes a total of 171.9€ for 2 years of web hosting with WIX. Noticeably, this was not the most budget friendly solution.
2. No efficient way to implement a blog.
Even though our local business aim is to sell cakes and not to display blog entries, it is clear that the amount of traffic that a well administered blog can draw is important for any website if you have SEO in mind. The tools provided by WIX back in 2012 to maintain a blog were nowhere near as user-friendly and efficient as those in other platforms.
At the beginning of 2012 we had done a first attempt with blogspot.com, but either they lacked the posibility to create a website with the look and feel that we wanted or we lacked the ability to do it.
3. No Google authorship and no Structured Data supported.
Not more than 10 months ago I started getting into the SEO world because, like everyone else, we wanted to make it to the first positions at the Google search results. By then, Google had once again modified and improved their search engine algorithm. I learned about Google Hummingbird and how it parsed the search query in a way that it was “more human, taking into account the whole sentence, conversation or meaning”. I created Titles, Descriptions and ALT text accordingly for all our pages and images.
I also understood then the importance of having a good g+ profile in order to be granted a better position at the search results. In my opinion, Google made it this move to encourage the use of g+ and protect its investment, as many of use just used google+ once when it first came out, added a bunch of people to one circle and never used it again.
I took care of that by being more “active” in g+, but when I attempted to link my g+ profile with our WIX site, I realized that it was not possible because WIX did not support the “?rel=author” link required to enforce Google authorship. Even when an “insert HTML” tool was available, typing for example: “<a href=”109412257237874861202?rel=author”>Google</a>” did not display it at the source code of the resulting page. They were somehow filtering it and their support confirmed it to me.
I also came across what was totally new to me: Structured Data Markup. It turned out that Google also favored those websites with properly structured data, so I did a little bit of research to create my own, but again, WIX did not support it. Again, I’m talking about 2012, maybe now they’ve come up with a solution, but altogether I was not considering staying with them anymore.
4. It seems that you are NOT the owner of your own data or at least you are not free to take your website with you.
WIX does not offer the possibility to migrate your whole website. There are no tools to just make a package out of it, so you can take it with you and keep building it some place else.
I can somehow understand that they’re protecting their business that way, but what really got into my nerves was that WIX does not allow you to download your own media. That’s right, once you upload your pictures you cannot download them in any way. Apparently, the media belongs to them and if you don’t have a local backup, then you’re screwed. At their support forums the best answer I saw from them was: “we are sorry, we recommend making screenshots of your images and save them as .jpg files” (which leads to the next point). As dumb as that sounds, I had to do that for quite some of our images.
5. Below average support.
I know this is always subjective, but my experience was always bad with WIX support. The problem I found was not only that It takes over 24 hours to get the initial response, but that once you get it, it may or may not have a properly researched solution for you.
Sometimes it looked as if the one who had grabbed my ticket had not even read what I had originally written, by asking for information that I had already provided or by saying something completely irrelevant. The only good thing I can say about their support staff is that they have cool avatar pictures, suggesting that they’re young and eager to help. My experience, however, showed otherwise.
I’m not saying that WIX is terrible or even that it cannot be a good alternative for some. I’m just saying that it was good for a while, during a period of time where I knew next to nothing about web hosting today, but I had to search for alternatives that addressed all these liabilities.
One of the things that I had in mind then was that it was necessary for us to be able to build our website offline. I came to realize that in these days it is hard to find alternatives to accomplish this. Whenever I searched for “create your own website” or “create a website locally” or something like that, I always got tons of results with online tools, such as Blogger, Blogspot, Wix, etc or even worse: the results showed clearly manipulated reviews of the top 10 or top 15 (or whatever) website builders.
I know some will say: “you did not know how to search” and some will probably be right. The fact is that I remember that 10 years ago web developers used Dreamweaver or other fancy software to build their websites and I thought that maybe most people still fancied that approach. Apparently, I was wrong.
Fortunately, after many months of thorough reading and research (and after being able to remember the words of a good friend who happens to be a web designer) I ran into WordPress . He mentioned back in 2010 that he used WordPress to build his websites. I couldn’t have been more ignorant about current web hosting strategies or CMS or web development in general, so I started my research about WordPress.
In an upcoming post, I’ll tell the tale of why I decided to setup my own local web server and make it ready for WordPress and how I finally migrated www.pastelesfelices.com from this testing and development environment to what so far seems to be a good shared hosting company.